A New Way to Think about CRM Automation
A New Way to Think about CRM Automation
The invisible personal assistant
I was on a discovery call with a prospect who was looking for CRM assistance.
They were telling me about their needs and why they wanted a CRM. I was busy writing down notes and processing what they wanted.
Eventually, the conversation turned to one of my favorite parts of CRM: the “invisible personal assistant.”
The invisible personal assistant is a term that I came up with a decade ago to help my prospects visualize one of the most critical elements of CRM.
(And, yes, I get the irony in helping people visualize something with an “invisible” representation.)
The invisible personal assistant represents the parts of CRM that allow users to manage their day pro-actively instead of reactively. These parts provide a wide array of functionality, including a well-defined dashboard, a useful calendar and follow-up system, pipelines, and automations.
The power of CRM sales automation
Automations can take many shapes and forms. They can be basic things like reminding me to follow up on a proposal that I sent out last week or to check in with an account that I haven’t contacted in a few months.
More advanced automations can rank and prioritize leads with a process called “lead scoring,” or even suggest and prioritize activities that have a high probability to generate new business.
Those are just a few examples of automation. The real-world applications are practically endless, and can drive massive productivity gains as well as an increase in customer and prospect satisfaction.
It’s all very cool stuff and, from what I see with prospects these days, it’s where the real power and value of CRM lies. In fact, if you are still using your CRM as a glorified Rolodex, run, don’t walk, to your partner to discuss getting your own “invisible personal assistant” up and running.
The prospect I was speaking with was sharp, and saw the value immediately.
He said: “That sounds great! So you could make it send my team text messages and alerts with that?”
I replied: “Absolutely. It can do all that and more.”
He came back with: “I would want that done right away.”
And here’s where it gets a bit tricky. Because I countered with: “No, I won’t do that for you.”
Why salespeople hate CRM
You should understand something. I’m actually a real sweetheart.
I don’t like to say “no” to people—particularly not potential customers!
But one thing that I’ve learned over nearly twenty years of helping small- and medium-sized businesses with CRM is this: CRM adoption is hard.
The last thing the average salesperson needs is more interruptions in their day.
Many salespeople see CRM as intrusive. In part, this is because it requires them to change their habits.
Salespeople seem to be cut from a different cloth. They like to march to their own beat.
Insert your favorite “salespeople are individuals” cliché here.
Salespeople aren’t always on board with a system of any kind that can be used to watch over and direct them. Even when the sales team is driving the push for CRM, they want a tool to help them meet their quotas and help close more business.
Justly so, they won’t settle for something that’s going to make life harder.
I respect and agree with that attitude.
In fact, one of the mantras that I live by is that I sell to management, but I implement for salespeople.
While the management team and ownership definitely is paying my bills, their success is dependent upon me focusing on making life easier for the salespeople.
What salespeople want from CRM
I would contend that one of the top problems facing salespeople is they are stretched too thin these days. Too much competitive pressure plus too difficult to get in front of the right people equals too many demands on their time.
The last thing the average salesperson needs is more interruptions in their day. Interruptions drop productivity.
Sales people won’t need to be interrupted if they build healthy, pro-active habits.
Adding in a handful of alerts is going to interrupt their day.
Not only does that defeat the purpose of a CRM investment, it’s going to lead to dissatisfaction, poor performance, and ultimately result in low adoption among your sales team.
And who can blame them?
No one—and I will repeat, no one—wants an assistant who interrupts your train of thought every few minutes. That’s like going to a toy shop with a toddler ramped up on Ritalin.
When I talk about the invisible personal assistant available in CRM, I envision the assistant who updates your calendar for you, adjusts your to-do list for you, and sets out the important client files on your desk so they are there when you need them.
The optimal strategy for your CRM rollout to achieve sales goals is to embrace the invisible personal assistant approach while establishing new habits among the sales team.
They need to look at what the assistant brings them on a regular basis. They don’t need to be poked and prodded the whole time.
The assistant doesn’t need to interrupt as long as it provides accurate, useful, timely, and up-to-date information and instructions to the sales people.
And sales people won’t need to be interrupted if they build healthy, pro-active habits in reviewing the information and instructions provided by the assistant.
It’s a solid model that can have tremendous impact among your prospects, customers, and sales team.
Do you have an invisible personal assistant?
For more on how to turn your CRM into an invisible personal assistant, check out our automation archives.
If you’d like to learn how automation can streamline your business, get in touch! We’ll help you find ways to optimize your system, and ensure your team has the best tools to increase productivity and improve profitability!
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Peter Wolf is the president and founder of Azamba. He has spent the last 18 years focused on helping small and medium-sized businesses become more profitable through effective and efficient usage of CRM.
His passion is blending the promise of CRM with the realities of business needs to create successful outcomes.